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Mount Polley Remediation Story

This is the story of Mount Polley Remedition – from tailings spill to environmental recovery

Katie: “My name is Katie McMahen. I was born and raised here in Williams Lake and I was a member of the environmental team here at Mount Polley for a number of years. Although it was a really devastating event, as scientists we want to learn what we can out of this work that’s going on and so we’re studying methods for restoring functioning forest ecosystems, methods for rehabilitating the soil, and trying to improve best practices, really. Since day one, we’ve been doing a ton of environmental monitoring and really prioritizing fixing up the creek.

“So I love the forest, and I love working and rehabilitating the forest, so some of the coolest work we’ve been doing is not just the replanting of trees, but trying to trying to create the right conditions for those trees to thrive. So, managing the tailings, doing some techniques to really make nice little sites for the trees to grow and so that they had the proper soil conditions.”

Mount Polley remediation staff on site near Hazeltine Creek
Mount Polley staff have been working diligently for years to restore habitats, ecosystems, and the environment at Mount Polley and affected sites. The Mount Polley Remediation story is one of turn-around, innovation, and Canadian pride.

Gabriel: “My name is Gabriel Holmes, and I grew up in Likely, British Columbia, and I’m an environmental technician here, I’ve worked here since 2011. I’m really proud of reintroducing the fish into the creeks – there’s a whole bunch of things I could go on and on – but reintroducing fish into Hazeltine Creek was a real milestone, the success of the spawning last year of the rainbow trout and Hazeltine Creek, a real milestone. The vegetative communities that are developing in our terrestrial landscapes in riparian areas and then of course this year, seeing a number of sockeye salmon in Edney Creek. I’m really proud to see that occur because that’s one of our end goals that we were trying to accomplish and to see them utilizing the system today, it’s fantastic.”

Katie: “I’m super proud of the work that we’ve done here. One of the biggest challenges has just been the scale of the work that we’ve had to do, and so considering it’s only five years now since the breach, just the sheer amount of work that’s been done in those five years is amazing. When I look back it feels like way longer because I can’t believe how much we’ve done.

“We’ve really set a high precedent for what needs to happen following an incident like this and that the type of work that can be done and should be done to clean up sites. There’s a lot of information that needs to get out there about what what’s the actual environmental conditions and the fact that we have thriving rainbow trout in the creek and tons of wildlife and animals using the habitat that we’ve created. It’s going to take some years for everything to grow, but these ecosystems are well on their way to recovery.”

Mount Polley environmental technician surveys sites near Polley lake. Remediation efforts have come a long way and are almost complete. The recovery project has cost Mount Polley’s parent company more than $70 million.
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Mount Polley recovery receives widespread praise

Mount Polley’s remediation efforts have set a high standard in the industry as the company has taken a tailings spill and turned it into environmental recovery. Mount Polley’s efforts have been praised and labeled ‘second to none’.

“My name is Walt Cobb. I’m mayor for the city Williams Lake. We’re a resource-based community. I mean without industry we would be nothing. I mean we’ve been pretty fortunate that we’re diversified, fairly diversified. We’ve got forestry, we’ve got agriculture, and of course we’ve got mining.

“When when anything that serious happens, everyone is concerned.

“But it was a concern of the damage that was done, of course, but since then it’s a whole new story. [Mount Polley’s parent company] spent millions and millions of dollars cleaning up what had happened. I’ve been out there probably at least four times, and there is no comparison today to what what you they continue to show on the media around when the breach happened.”

Watch the whole video for more.

Mount Polley recovery efforts are almost complete. Mount Polley remediation has been praised as 'second-to-none' by experts in the field.
Mount Polley wetland restoration and revegetation
An aerial drone shot of Mount Polley remediation efforts that shows creek shoreline restoration, revegetation, and fish habitat installation.
Mount Polley creek rebuild, revegetation, and fish habitat installations